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Tuesday, July 27

Mistakes That Cost Money

Those are the kind of errors that I never forget. Name a mistake that cost me a significant amount of money, and I can name the circumstances - even the date, in some cases.

And that's for amounts of about thirty dollars or so.

So do you think 8.7 BILLION dollars might honk me off if it went missing?

In the runup to the war with Iraq, we were given many breezy and heartfelt assurances that the total cost of the war and the reconstruction of the country would be borne by the Iraqis, out of their oil revenue of course.

But quite naturally those people lied. People like Paul Wolfowitz and his greasy ilk, so in response to their lies we started sending money into Iraq.

Lots of money.

Loaded on pallets and driven aboard C5-A Galaxy transports by forklifts.

Crisp new bills, straight from the Federal Reserve Bank to Baghdad - where it all disappeared.

Poof, like a fart in a tornado.

This isn't a brilliant scoop by some enterprising journalist - those are few and far between nowadays. The news of this monumental mistake (part of an entire avalanche of mistakes) broke a few years back, but was quietly dropped after causing a bit of a stink.

But I never forgot. I don't forget mistakes that cost money.

Where did the money go? Who lost it? Who got it? Did it benefit the insurgency that was in its "last throes" for so many years that we made the phrase a joke? Did it end up lining the pockets of our Viceroy, L. Paul Bremer and his satraps? Is it squirreled away somewhere, in quiet places so that it can accrue interest until certain people retire?

No one knows - or, rather, no one who wants to talk about it knows.

Now, compared to the total cost of the war in Iraq, nine billion dollars is chicken feed. But when our economy is reeling from the burden of that war, and the war in Afghanistan, and the repercussions of the Bush tax cuts, nine billion dollars is a huge amount. It looms over us like a mountain.

And no matter what, I won't forget this mistake.

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